Melbourne: McLaren driver Jenson Button set the fastest time in the first practice session for Formula One's season-opening Australian Grand Prix, ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton on Friday.
However, Button was a quarter of a second faster than Hamilton with Mercedes' Michael Schumacher and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso next on the timesheets.
Interestingly, reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel was 11th, more than two seconds off the pace in his Red Bull. His teammate, local hope Mark Webber however fared better and was fifth on the clock.
Though the track was wet from the morning rain and much of the session was conducted on intermediate tires, but drivers were able to switch to the slick dry-weather tires for the final half hour.
Mercedes' Nico Rosberg stood at the sixth position, and Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo seventh in front of his home crowd. Williams' Pastor Maldonado had the eighth-fastest time, ahead of Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen, with Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi rounding out the top ten.
Raikkonen, who is back in Formula One after a two-year break, only emerged for his flying laps in the final 15 minutes of the session due to a steering problem on his Lotus.
Schumacher, still looking for his first podium position since his comeback to the sport, had a big reason for optimism after his third placing.
Narain Karthikeyan ventured briefly on track before suffering a failure and coasting to a stop, while the car of Pedro de la Rosa was still being pieced together and took no part on Friday.
Marussia fared little better with Timo Glock more than seven seconds off the pace and rookie Charles Pic 12 seconds off Button's time.
By Indian Sports News